MLS Cup 2013: Live Blog

December 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the MLS Cup trophy after the Los Angeles Galaxy defeat the Houston Dynamo 3-1 to win the 2012 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This is North America’s premier association football cup final: it’s MLS Cup 2013, live from Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Dec. 7, 2013. The best team in the MLS Western Conference, Jason Kreis’s Real Salt Lake, takes on the hosts, Peter Vermes’s Sporting Kansas City for the right to earn just the second league title in their respective club’s history.

Real Salt Lake finished 2013 with a 16-10-8 record (56 points), defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy in the conference semifinals 2-1 on aggregate before thrashing the Portland Timbers 5-2 in the Western Conference Final.

As for Sporting KC, they ended the 2013 regular season with a 17-10-7 record (58 points), eliminating the New England Revolution 4-3 on aggregate in the conference semifinals before taking out the Houston Dynamo 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Final.

But at the end of the day, only one of these teams will finish the year with the Phillip F. Anschutz Trophy. Who will take the prize? Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. PST/4 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPN, UniMas, TSN2 and RDS. Join FanSided’s Jo-Ryan Salazar and Aaron Rench at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST for the leadup to this historic event. You don’t want to miss this.

MLS happens here…at the Plex. This is the MLS Multiplex’s coverage of MLS Cup 2013, here on Fansided.

Refresh the page for updates and give us your thoughts of the game in the Comments section!

T-180: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, wherever you may be in the world. This is the MLS Multiplex on the FanSided Network with its coverage of MLS Cup 2013, live from Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. My name is Jo-Ryan Salazar, co-editor of the Plex. This is my debut piece for this new addition to FanSided, so I am happy to be here giving you coverage of one of the rising leagues of association football in the world.

So readers, it’s come to this. 90 minutes to determine who is the best club in the United States and Canada. On one hand, you have Jason Kreis’s Real Salt Lake, who disposed of Los Angeles and Portland to get to this point. On the other, you have Peter Vermes’s Sporting Kansas City, who defeated New England and Houston en route to hosting this showcase event. Who will take the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy? We’ll find out starting at 1 p.m. PT/3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET on ESPN, UniMas, TSN2 and RDS.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy our coverage of MLS Cup 2013 on the Plex. Be sure to sound off on our Disqus Comments section and join the debate. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the teams and the game. Also, be sure to refresh the page to get updates on this Live Blog.

T-177: First, the referees, from MLSSoccer.com’s preview. Hilario Grajeda of Dayton, Ohio will be the MLS Cup referee for the first time. Named the 2013 MLS Referee of the Year, Grajeda has been an MLS referee since 2004. Grajeda was the referee for the 2013 MLS All-Star Game; he was the fourth official for MLS Cup 2012. For his 23 league matches in 2013, Grajeda whistled an average of 23.2 fouls per game, fourth-lowest in the league (among 23 referees, the league average was 24.8). He also gave out 2.7 yellows per game (league average was 3.11), and awarded 4 red cards and 3 penalty kicks. The assistant referees are Paul Scott and Bill Dittmar. It is the first appearance for each in MLS Cup; they were the two assistants for the MLS All-Star Game. The fourth official is Ismail Elfath.

T-175: Jason Kreis became the fourth former MLS player to also win an MLS Cup as coach, guiding Real Salt Lake to their MLS Cup 2009 title. Kreis scored 108 goals, still fifth-most all-time in MLS history, in a 12-year career with Dallas (1996-2004) and Real Salt Lake (2005-07). As for Peter Vermes, he is looking to be the second person to win MLS Cup both as a player and a head coach. Vermes was a member of the then-Kansas City Wizards who won MLS Cup 2000, playing the full match in central defense in the 1-0 win vs. the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium.

T-174: Now for some ins and outs on the teams.

  • Seven current members of Real Salt Lake were in the squad for MLS Cup 2009, and six were in the first XI that day. Nick Rimando started between the posts, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert started in the back four, Robbie Findley started in attack and Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales were in the midfield, though Morales’ day ended after just 22 minutes because of injury. Tony Beltran was an unused substitute.
  • Just one member of the Sporting Kansas City squad has played in an MLS Cup Final. Paulo Nagamura played the entirety of MLS Cup 2005 with the LA Galaxy, a 1-0 win against New England at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
  • Seven players started all four matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs for Sporting Kansas City heading into MLS Cup: Jimmy Nielsen, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Oriol Rosell, Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi. Of those, all but Rosell has started all nine of the team’s playoff matches in the last three seasons. During this year’s playoffs, 14 different players started matches for SKC.

T-173: Some more ins and outs…

  • Seven players started all four matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs for Real Salt Lake heading into MLS Cup: defenders Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler, midfielders Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil and Javier Morales, and goalkeeper Nick Rimando. During this year’s playoffs, 15 different players started matches for RSL.
  • Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer scored the game-winning goal in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship vs. Houston, his first career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Over the 2013 season, Dwyer scored 26 goals for two different clubs in six competitions: MLS regular season (2), MLS Cup Playoffs (1) and CONCACAF Champions League (1) for Sporting KC, and in USL Pro regular season (15), USL Pro playoffs (4) and U.S. Open Cup (3), while on loan to Orlando City SC.
  • C.J. Sapong scored his second career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs, netting the opener in the East final second leg win against Houston. Sporting have never been on the losing side when Sapong hits the back of the net, now 17-0-2 in all competitions over three seasons when he scores.

T-172: And some more…

  • RSL’s Robbie Findley has scored goals in back-to-back games in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the second time in his career, after netting in each leg of the Western Conference Championship. The last time Findley scored in consecutive postseason games was when he scored in each leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Columbus in Real’s MLS Cup-winning season of 2009. Findley is RSL’s all-time leading postseason scorer with 6 goals in 13 matches.
  • Findley became the fifth player to score goals in consecutive playoff matches, the second for RSL, along with center back Chris Schuler. Also netting in back-to-back games were Aurelien Collin [KC], Omar Cummings [HOU] and Will Johnson [POR]; no player has yet scored in three games in this year’s playoffs.
  • Sporting come into MLS Cup with a key performer looking to return to fitness after midfielder Lawrence Olum suffered a fractured fibula in the East semifinals. Peterson Joseph will not be available for MLS Cup, after suffering a blackout during training before the playoffs. Defender Josh Gardner is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain, while Paulo Nagamura was suffering from a left ankle strain but played in the Western Conference Championship second leg.

T-171: And some more!

  • Real Salt Lake are hoping to have forward Alvaro Saborio available for MLS Cup, after he missed both legs of the Western Conference Championship with a right hip flexor strain suffered late in the second match vs. the LA Galaxy. Chris Wingert missed the first leg of the West final with a fractured rib and pneumothorax suffered in the first leg against Portland. Defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and goalkeeper Josh Saunders are both out for the season following knee surgery; defender Rich Balchan is doubtful after shoulder surgery.
  • Both teams will be wearing their primary home uniforms, continuing a trend from their previous MLS Cup appearances. Real Salt Lake will be in their all-claret first strip, which they also wore in 2009. KC will be in their Sporting Blue (all light blue) uniforms; they wore their all-blue home kit as the Kansas City Wizards in both 2000 and 2004.
  • For the first time in MLS Cup history, two teams outside the Top 10 media markets in the country (per designated market area) will be contesting the league’s championship match. Kansas City is ranked No. 31 and Salt Lake City is No. 33.

T-170: Your conference standings at the end of the 2013 MLS regular season…

Eastern Conference

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 s - New York Red Bulls 59 34 1.74 17 9 8 58 41 17 34 18 24 -1
2 x - Sporting Kansas City 58 34 1.71 17 10 7 47 30 17 29 14 18 3
3 x - New England Revolution 51 34 1.5 14 11 9 49 38 11 29 13 20 -2
4 x - Houston Dynamo 51 34 1.5 14 11 9 41 41 0 24 7 17 -7
5 x - Montreal Impact 49 34 1.44 14 13 7 50 49 1 31 11 19 -10
6 Chicago Fire 49 34 1.44 14 13 7 47 52 -5 29 8 18 -13
7 Philadelphia Union 46 34 1.35 12 12 10 42 44 -2 23 5 19 -7
8 Columbus Crew 41 34 1.21 12 17 5 42 46 -4 19 6 23 -10
9 Toronto FC 29 34 0.85 6 17 11 30 47 -17 23 1 7 -18
10 D.C. United 16 34 0.47 3 24 7 22 59 -37 16 -13 6 -24

Western Conference

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 y - Portland Timbers 57 34 1.68 14 5 15 54 33 21 29 18 25 3
2 x - Real Salt Lake 56 34 1.65 16 10 8 57 41 16 31 15 26 1
3 x - LA Galaxy 53 34 1.56 15 11 8 53 38 15 32 24 21 -9
4 x - Seattle Sounders FC 52 34 1.53 15 12 7 42 42 0 29 14 13 -14
5 x - Colorado Rapids 51 34 1.5 14 11 9 45 38 7 30 14 15 -7
6 San Jose Earthquakes 51 34 1.5 14 11 9 35 42 -7 23 10 12 -17
7 Vancouver Whitecaps 48 34 1.41 13 12 9 53 45 8 32 13 21 -5
8 FC Dallas 44 34 1.29 11 12 11 48 52 -4 29 7 19 -11
9 Chivas USA 26 34 0.76 6 20 8 30 67 -37 17 -12 13 -25

x – Clinched playoff spot
y – Clinched No. 1 playoff seed in Conference
s – Clinched Supporters Shield, and No. 1 playoff seed in Conference

T-168: Often teams in one league are compared to teams in another. For Real Salt Lake, it’s the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. At least, according to RSL’s Chris Wingert.

Dec 6, 2013; Kansas City, KS, USA; Real Salt Lake player Kyle Beckerman (middle) warms up with his teammates during practice the day before the MLS Cup soccer game against Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

“I think we strive to be sort of like the San Antonio Spurs,” Wingert told MLSSoccer.com’s Simon Borg. “We’re not there yet. But I like think we strive to be like them in certain ways. They’re a small-market team and have a veteran core who have been around for a while.

“They’re great players, but maybe not the best in the league or get the most attention. They have great coaching and a great staff … They’ve kept the core together and added pieces around them. It’s kind of the idea of what we’re striving to be like.”

T-166: Could Tony Beltran and Chris Schuler get a nod to the USA Men’s National Team after a strong performance in MLS Cup? The players in question think so.

“There’s no doubt about it — this is a high-profile game, this is a high-pressure game and I’m sure Jurgen is excited that players that are involved in the national team are in these games, because this is how you elevate your career,” Beltran told MLSsoccer.com’s Nicholas Rosano. “Big players want to play in big games and you get better from doing that. So of course I’m a little cognizant of that and I’m sure he’s watching, I hope he’s watching, but of course my attention is with RSL.”

“This game will definitely get more attention because it’s a final,” Schuler added. “These are the most fun to play in because they’re the most important.”

T-162: For Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, he’s hoping to make history for his fellow Danish countrymen to be the first Dane to lift the Cup since 1999. My, that’s quite a long time.

Dec 6, 2013; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting Kansas City player Jimmy Nielsen is interviewed during media day in advance of the MLS Cup game against Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s been my goal since I came here to be part of a championship team and make some history for the team,” Nielsen told MLSSoccer.com’s Steve Brisendine. “This is my opportunity.”

“I feel full of energy, extremely motivated. That’s very, very important when you reach my age. I’ve been through the opposite, so I know how it feels and how important it is.”

T-160: Last year, Sporting Kansas City won the U.S. Open Cup. This year, Vermes’s crew are hoping to build on that with an MLS Cup victory at home against Real Salt Lake.

“There’s no doubt that it was an important event here,” Vermes told Brisendine on Tuesday. “What I would say, though, is that it’s an ambitious group and we have other things that we want to accomplish as a team. So as much as I think that it’s good to have that experience and draw off of it, the other piece of it is that it’s kind of behind us. No doubt that that was a catalyst to help us move forward, but at the same time the ambition is what’s the main focus of the group.”

T-144: You can expect some frozen conditions in today’s Cup final, with the temperatures reaching the 20′s. However, Vermes believes the club is ready to handle that.

“ We do have a sub-air system that will continue to blow hot air underneath,” Vermes told MLSSoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe. ”The more dangerous thing for the player is when the field freezes. I don’t see that happening.”

T-140: The importance of Graham Zusi to Sporting Kansas City can’t be stressed much further. It’s not just the statistics that tell the story. It’s the intangibles.

“I’m very happy with my fitness level right now,” Zusi said to Steve Brisendine this week. “It gets stronger and stronger throughout the season and we’ve done a great job throughout the latter end of the season and through the playoffs to rest when you need it and to go hard when you need it as well.

“I thought that was as funny stat myself, I heard it for the first time two years ago. And there’s so much more that goes on to a game than those stats. I’m not worried about it. I’m happy to let other people get the shots on frame and scoring goals. As long as we’re ahead at the end of the game, I don’t care if I get a goal or a shot on frame.”

T-134: Every match requires an X-factor. For Sporting Kansas City, it could be Paulo Nagamura.

“He’s such a good box-to-box midfielder,” left back Seth Sinovic told Brisendine on Tuesday. “He’s tenacious defensively – winning tackles, winning headers. And then on top of that he’s making runs out of the midfield all the time, which is something that’s huge for our team and the way we like to play. Tactically, he’s such a smart player. He’s very good on the ball. He brings a lot to the midfield, a different dynamic. He’s been a huge reason why we’ve made this run.”

T-131: Apparently, trigger man Alvaro Saborio has the green light to start today against Sporting Kansas City for the boys from Real Salt Lake. As for Devon Sandoval…not so much.

“Sandoval is not quite as healthy,” Kreis told MLSSoccer.com’s Scott Pierce. “[He] has been going a while now with, actually, a small break in his foot. So it will be a real tough consideration for him on the weekend.”

T-130: This year’s Save of the Year belongs to Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando, for his stop on the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 3 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

Dec 6, 2013; Kansas City, KS, USA; Real Salt Lake players Nick Rimando (right) and Kyle Beckerman in attendance during the World Cup draw event in advance of the MLS Cup at Sporting Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Rimando (RSL) vs. COL, 8/3               29.94%

Jaime Penedo (LA) vs. VAN, 8/24                 24.47%

Raul Fernandez (DAL) vs. LA, 7/7                 22.3%

Donovan Ricketts (POR) vs. VAN, 10/6        23.28%

MLS Save of the Year Winners

2013: Nick Rimando – Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids – August 3, 2013

2012: Nick Rimando – Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City – April 14, 2012

2011: Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – October 15, 2011

2010: Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC vs. Kansas City Wizards – April 17, 2010

2009: Pat Onstad – Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids – April 20, 2009

T-125: In a little over an hour, MLSSoccer.com will also have its pregame show live from Sporting Park. Be sure to tune it at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET.

T-123: No love? No recognition? No respect? No worries for Real Salt Lake.

“It doesn’t bother us,” midfielder Javier Morales told MLSsoccer.com’s Scott Pierce. “We know that’s going to happen. We know it’s going to be [players from] New York, Portland, LA, big teams. But we don’t have to put attention on that.”

“We can’t really worry about the outside stuff,” added midfielder and RSL team captain Kyle Beckerman. “It’s just about getting the trophy for the club, for the community, getting another star on the jersey. That’s what it’s all about. That other stuff – if they don’t know about our team now, maybe they’ll figure it out.”

T-120: We are two hours to kickoff at Sporting Park. The odds from oddschecker…

Sporting Kansas City 20/19
Draw 12/5
Real Salt Lake 37/13

As always, give us your thoughts on the match today on the comment section below. This is the Live Blog of MLS Cup 2013 on the Plex.

T-110: Here are the players to keep an eye on in today’s match.

Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales
Sporting Kansas City: Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Jimmy Nielsen

Those are your six players that every one of you needs to pay close attention to.

T-100: Opposing viewpoints give their take on today’s contest, courtesy of the Guardian. What’s your scoreline? Sound off on the comments!

T-97: Already Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber is letting Kyle Beckerman know what he thinks of him…according to Graham Parker of the Guardian.

T-95: “If I were to think about the entire league, I think that Kansas City and Real Salt Lake have two very distinct styles that have been implemented,” Jason Kreis told Charles Boehm, “and they don’t go away from those styles very often. So I think it says something about leadership and management sticking with coaches, and also trying to identify a style and a system and staying with that.”

T-93: From Sporting News…the LVH SuperBook has opened Sporting Kansas City a -200 favorite to capture the MLS Cup against Real Salt Lake (+175). The LVH is also offering three other betting options, all tied into the 90-minute result. Bettors can lay a half-goal with K.C. at +105 (or RSL +½ goal at -125), and also choose the match to go OVER or UNDER 2.5 total goals scored by both teams, where the UNDER is the -120 favorite. Then there is the three-way prop with both sides and a draw, where KC is +105, RSL +275 and the draw is +235.

Place your bets, folks!

T-90: Can you feel it in the air today? We are now 90 minutes away from kickoff at Sporting Park.

T-88: Ben Gartland of the Daily Wiz wrote a stirring hype piece of how this game means a lot to Kansas City. Check it out.

T-80: Brian Shaw of the Utah Sports Examiner believes Real Salt Lake can win based on three things.

Experience
Simply put, RSL has played in big games before. MLS Cup 2008 versus the LA Galaxy? Check. The only MLS team to have ever played in a CONCACAF Champions League Final? Yessir, with a tear. The US Open Cup final this year? Yes, sadly. And finally, this year, with everything to lose against the No. 1 seed in the West, the Portland Timbers? Positively, and twice victorious.

Goalkeeping
Jimmy Nielsen is a good goalkeeper but let’s face facts — he’s not Nick Rimando. He’s 36 and he didn’t even have his best season in a Sporting uniform (he went 17-10-7).

Couple Nicky’s national team experience with his recent Save of the Year honors as announced by Major League Soccer today and you have a pretty good goalkeeper — compared to Nielsen who is probably playing into the twilight of his career.

Attacking
Real Salt Lake can hit you a lot of ways. They can get physical and highly technical with Alvaro Saborio and Olmes Garcia; they can mix it up and pair up Devon Sandoval or Sabo as a target, post-up guy — and then have someone speedy like Robbie Findley or Joao Plata run underneath in support; or they can go all out at you with Garcia and Findley and try to really stretch you out.

T-74: How does Sporting Kansas City showcase its success? By getting the fans involved!

“I wish I could show you,” says Robb Heineman, Sporting Kansas City CEO, to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. “I bet there were 90 positives for every five or 10 negatives.”

T-68:  Charles Gooch of the Kansas City Star breaks down the advantages of each team. Real Salt Lake dominates the attack, coaching style, disgruntled designated players, signature hairstyles and euro-sounding name, while Sporting Kansas City is superior in terms of defense, goalkeeping, home stadium and local beer of choice.

The two aspects where it’s a dead heat is soccer philosophy and colors and kits. Gooch explains.

This is for my amateur tacticians out there: This is, essentially, a geometrical battle between diamonds and triangles. Salt Lake’s preferred formation (a 4-4-2 with the midfielders packed in tight in the shape of a diamond) is designed to control the ball in the middle of the park and move the ball around the beleaguered defense/midfield. Salt Lake rarely is out-possessed in a match, ever. Kansas City’s preferred formation (4-3-3 with the three midfielders constantly re-arranging themselves into different triangles) is designed to place pressure higher up the field to control the ball in the attacking half and harass the beleaguered defense/midfield into making mistakes. Kansas City is rarely out-possessed in a match at Sporting Park.

The primaries for each team are both above-average for MLS. Both prominently feature the team’s signature color (“claret” for RSL, “Sporting” blue for SKC) with a full-sleeve of its accent color (“cobalt” for RSL, “indigo” for SKC). Whatever happened to calling colors red and blue? This is why we shouldn’t let designers and marketing folks name things.

Who has the better soccer philosophy and kits? Sound off!

T-60: An hour to kickoff. Check out the new match ball coming next season.

T-48: As you know, Mike Magee was named the League MVP. Here is the vote breakdown.

Player (Club) % of Club Votes % of Media Votes % of Player Votes Weighted Total
Mike Magee (CHI) 34.69 37.33 26.79 98.81
Robbie Keane (LA) 22.45 24 12.11 58.56
Marco Di Vaio (MTL) 14.29 10.67 10.46 35.42
Tim Cahill (NY) 12.25 12 6.42 30.67

Also, your 2013 MLS Best XI:


 
Donovan Ricketts              Goalkeeper          Portland Timbers       Nationality: Jamaica      
A finalist for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Ricketts ranked among the league leaders in wins (13), goals-against average (0.97) and saves percentage (73 percent). The Jamaican international set MLS career highs in shutouts (14), saves (92) and minutes played (2,880) across 32 matches with the Portland Timbers. This is his second MLS Best XI selection.


José Gonçalves                 Defender              New England Revolution     Nationality: Portugal  
In his first MLS season, Gonçalves was named the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year and finalist for Newcomer of the Year. The dominating center back played every minute of the season while captaining a New England Revolution team that finished third-best in the league with a 1.12 goals against average. He also anchored a defense that accounted for a club-record 14 shutouts on the way to their first playoff appearance in four seasons. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.


Matt Besler                          Defender              Sporting Kansas City      Nationality: USA
Last year’s Defender of the Year and finalist for this year’s award, Besler has established himself as one of the best central defenders in the League.  He led a defense that allowed the fewest goals (30) this season, while contributing two assists. This is his second MLS Best XI selection.


Omar Gonzalez                   Defender              LA Galaxy       Nationality: USA
A finalist for Defender of the Year and the youngest among this year’s Best XI selections, Gonzalez served as the backbone of the LA Galaxy defense starting 27 games this season. His consistent play helped the LA Galaxy keep 10 clean sheets in 2013. This is his third MLS Best XI selection.


Tim Cahill                             Midfielder             New York Red Bulls      Nationality: Australia
In his first full MLS season, the two-time World Cup participant and English Premier League veteran was the driving force behind the New York Red Bulls Supporters’ Shield-winning season. Cahill scored 11 goals and added five assists, while starting 27 matches. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.


Will Johnson                        Midfielder             Portland Timbers     Nationality: Canada
In his first season with the Timbers, Johnson scored a single-season career-high nine goals and added five assists. His strong play and leadership helped the Timbers claim the best record in the Western Conference (14-5-15), which included a 15-game unbeaten streak. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.


Diego Valeri                         Midfielder             Portland Timbers     Nationality: Argentina
A finalist for Newcomer of the Year, Valeri signed with the Portland Timbers as a Designated Player before the start of the season from Argentina’s Club Atlético Lanús. The cunning playmaker led MLS in assists with 13 and added 10 goals, propelling the Timbers to an MLS club single-season record with 14 wins. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.


Graham Zusi                        Midfielder             Sporting Kansas City      Nationality: USA
Zusi scored a single-season career-high six goals and tallied eight assists in 27 league appearances. The dynamic midfielder helped Sporting advance to MLS Cup and solidified his spot on the US national team. This is his second MLS Best XI selection.


Marco Di Vaio                      Forward               Montreal Impact         Nationality: Italy
A finalist for the 2013Volkswagen MLS MVP Award, Di Vaio proved to be one of the most dangerous players in MLS this season. The vastly experienced Italian striker netted 20 goals for the Montreal Impact all from the run of play (no PK or free kicks), with five of those coming as game-winners. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.


Robbie Keane                     Forward                 LA Galaxy         Nationality: Ireland
A finalist for the 2013Volkswagen MLS MVP Award, Robbie Keane had one of the most complete performances of his career this season. The Irish international finished third in MLS with 11 assists and fourth in MLS with sixteen goals. The talented forward is Ireland’s all-time leader in goals and their current captain. This is his second MLS Best XI selection.


Mike Magee                         Forward                Chicago Fire        Nationality: USA
A finalist for the 2013 Volkswagen MLS MVP Award, Mike Magee had a break out year finishing second in the league with 21 goals while adding four assists. After being traded from the LA Galaxy on May 25 to his hometown Chicago Fire side, Magee made an immediate impact, scoring seven goals in his first seven matches and led the team to a playoff berth. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

T-35: Kevin Alston was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year, while Caleb Porter was named Coach of the Year, according to USA Today. Diego Valeri was named MLS Newcomer of the Year, while Dillon Powers was named MLS Rookie of the Year.

T-31: Also, Jose Goncalves was named the MLS Defender of the Year, while Matt Reis was named Humanitarian of the Year.

T-30: Finally, the Fair Play awards were given to Darlington Nagbe and the LA Galaxy, respectively.

Xbox Fair Play Award – Individual Winners:
2013: 
Darlington Nagbe – Portland Timbers
2012:  Logan Pause – Chicago Fire
2011:  Sébastien Le Toux – Philadelphia Union
2010:  Sébastien Le Toux – Philadelphia Union
2009:  Steve Ralston – New England Revolution
2008:  Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2007:  Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2006:  Chris Klein – Real Salt Lake
2005:  Ronald Cerritos – San Jose Earthquakes
2004:  Eddie Pope – Metro Stars
2003:  Brian McBride – Columbus Crew
2002:  Mark Chung – Colorado Rapids
2001:  Alex Pineda Chacon – Miami Fusion
2000:  Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny
1999:  Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny
1998:  Thomas Dooley – Columbus Crew
1997:  Mark Chung – Kansas City Wizards

Xbox Fair Play Award -Team Winners:
2013:  LA Galaxy
2012:  New England Revolution
2011:  Portland Timbers
2010:  San Jose Earthquakes
2009:  Chicago Fire
2008:  New England Revolution
2007:  Columbus Crew
2006:  Kansas City Wizards
2005:  Kansas City Wizards
2004:  Columbus Crew
2003:  New England Revolution
2002:  Kansas City Wizards
2001:  San Jose Earthquakes
2000:  Tampa Bay Mutiny
1999:  Columbus Crew
1998:  Kansas City Wizards
1997:  Columbus Crew

T-25: Here are the lineups:

MLS Cup 2013 formations.

MLS Cup 2013 formations.

T-16: Lineups again…

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City
1 G Jimmy Nielsen
7 D Chance Myers
78 D Aurélien Collin
5 D Matt Besler
15 D Seth Sinovic
6 M Paulo Nagamura
20 M Oriol Rosell
10 M Benny Feilhaber
8 F Graham Zusi
14 F Dominic Dwyer
17 F C.J. Sapong
Real Salt Lake
18 G Nick Rimando
2 D Tony Beltran
6 D Nat Borchers
28 D Chris Schuler
17 D Chris Wingert
5 M Kyle Beckerman
21 M Luis Gil
20 M Ned Grabavoy
11 M Javier Morales
15 F Alvaro Saborio
10 F Robbie Findley
Bench

Sporting Kansas City”

18 Eric Kronberg
37 Jacob Peterson
16 Claudio Bieler
3 Ike Opara
9 Teal Bunbury
22 Soony Saad
13 Lawrence Olum

Real Salt Lake

7 Lovel Palmer
44 Brandon McDonald
24 Jeff Attinella
12 Cole Grossman
8 Joao Plata
26 Sebastian Velasquez
13 Olmes García
Managers

Sporting Kansas City

Peter Vermes

 

Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis
OFFICIALS
Main Hilario Grajeda
Lineman 1 Paul Scott
Lineman 2 Bill Dittmar
Fourth official Ismail Elfath

T-10: Only 10 minutes to go to the show, here on FanSided.

T-0: Showtime at Sporting Park.

20 degrees Fahrenheit, folks. This is Super Bowl weather. Fans are waving flags on both sides. This is what every game should be all about. Tifo and spirit. This is how we do it. This is MLS.

A little over 13 minutes to the actual kickoff of the game, which will be coming up.

FIRST HALF START: 4:24 P.M. ET

1′ – MLS Cup 2013…begins, here in the Cauldron of Sporting Park.

2′ – A bit of a stoppage of play here before we get going. Free kick for RSL. Javier Moralex, and that is collected by Jimmy Nielsen. That goes out. It will be a throw-in. Entry pass for Feilhaber fails. Corner for SKC.

3′ – Corner is cleared by Robbie Findley. Hosts keep possession but it’s too far for C.J. Sapong.

8′ – Substitution Sporting Kansas City
IN 13 Lawrence Olum
OUT Oriol Rosell

4′ – Alvario Saborio now. Sporting on the counter. Graham Zusi. Paulo Nagamura makes a meal of that entry pass.

5′ – Robbie Findley. now it’s Oriol Rosell. Goal kick for Nielsen. Good defending from Sporting.

6′ – A player is down for Sporting. It’s Rosell.

7′ – Well, this will be a bad loss for Sporting Kansas City and it looks like Lawrence Olum may have to fill in for the rest of the match until he goes down.

8′ – Substitution Sporting Kansas City
IN 13 Lawrence Olum
OUT 20 Oriol Rosell

9′ – Seth Sinovic now. Cleared.

10′ – Nick Rimando with his first collection of the game for Real Salt Lake. Javier Morales to throw. Robbie Findley nearly broke through there.

11′ – Dom Dwyer wins a set piece. This is from about 20-25 yards out. Zusi will probably take this.

12′ – That is a wide set piece from Zusi. Not one of his best. Goal kick, Rimando.

13′ – A nice wintry afternoon in Kansas City. The sun peeking out. Here is another Zusi set piece. Poorly headed, but Nagamura just won a corner for Zusi.

14′ – Collected by Rimando, who gets a bit of a warning from Hilario Grajeda to mind his manners.

15′ – Tony Beltran is the guilty party on that challenge on Zusi. Restart to Sporting.

16′ – Nat Borchers got fouled in the box from the bicycle kick from Dom Dwyer. Gotta love the attempt in these conditions.

17′ – We’re seeing some action here. Good sportsmanship from Dwyer, who helped Orlando City win the USL Pro title several weeks ago.

18′ – 18 minutes in, we should see some injury time this half. It’s scoreless…at the Cauldron.

19′ – Here comes Sporting, but Real Salt Lake react. Ned Grabavoy. Morales makes a meal of that. And now it’s Rimando who resets. Sporting player down, and it’s Dwyer. Talk about karma.

20′ – John Lennon could not have been any more honest. Instant karma is gonna get you, and it got Dwyer.

21′ – A little bit of the “don’t argue” from Sapong.

22′ – Long pass from RSL, and Grajeda plays advantage to Sporting Kansas City.

23′ – Robbie Findley got in the middle of that mess. Now here’s Nielsen. And it’s back to Nielsen after a few errant passes. Chris Wingert will get carded.

24′ – Yellow card 17 Chris Wingert
Real Salt Lake

25′ – Rimando collects, and plays it forward. Good save there from Rimando on Sapong. First save of the game.

26′ – Corner is cleared, but here’s Sporting again. Danger averted for Real Salt Lake.

27′ – Chance Myers for Dom Dwyer, and no dice. That’s another goal kick for Rimando. They are creating sequences, Sporting KC are. What an effort.

28′ – Robbie Findley now. Morales, and Alvaro Saborio can’t get to that ball.

29′ – Chris Schuler denies Dwyer from breaking through. Aurelien Collin gets whistled for challenging Saborio. Free kick for Javier Morales. Taken short. Jimmy Nielsen with a big stop. That would have 1-0 Real Salt Lake. Off the post.

30′ – That had to wake up Sporting Kansas City and their fans. Real Salt Lake came ready to play.

31′ – Sapong again, but Rimando is there to collect.

32′ – An opening here and Alvaro lost the race to Jimmy. Nielsen, that is.

33′ – SKC on the offensive. Sinovic, Feilhaber, and now a chance, and Real Salt Lake are holding the fort. Great defending.

34′ – 34 minutes in, and it’s been wide-open as wide open can be.

35′  - Yellow card 78 Aurelien Collin
Sporting Kansas City

That’s for the challenge on Robbie Findley.

36′ - A chip shot for Saborio is headed out. That’s not gonna please Jason Kreis.

37′ – Saborio has to head that in. Bad positioning all around.

38′ – Sporting are back on the attack. C.J. Sapong is looking for a good ball.  And Ned Grabavoy slides on the still-icy surface. Free kick.

39′ – Matt Besler’s delivery is wide and the rebound is wrecked by Graham Zusi.

40′ – Well so far, Sporting have dominated possession but have lacked the finish to go with it. Lawrence Olum’s awful one-timer is a great example of this.

41′ – Real Salt Lake now with possession. Sporting’s backline contain and Nielsen redistributes.

42′ – Chris Schuler denies C.J. Sapong again. Now it’s Kyle Beckerman. That will be a free kick to Real Salt Lake.

43′ – Long free kick from Morales. And we have a scuffle. Alvaro Saborio could be in trouble here.

Yellow card 15 Alvaro Saborio
Real Salt Lake

44′ – All these yellows are piling up right now.

45′ – Sporting are back on the attack. And a free kick for the hosts.

45′ + 1′ – Graham Zusi missed everything. Four minutes of injury time.

45′ + 2′ – Good ball here, and Chris Schuler is up in arms. Free kick outside the box for Sporting.

45′ + 3′ – Misses everything. A save on Dwyer by Rimando. His second of the day. Great stuff from Nick Rimando.

45′ + 4′ – Rimando will just let this clock melt. That should be it for the first half.

HALFTIME
Sporting Kansas City 0
Real Salt Lake 0

Sporting Kansas City Real Salt Lake
8 Attempts on Goal 3
2 Shots on Target 0
4 Shots off Target 2
2 Blocked Shots 1
3 Corner Kicks 0
10 Fouls 7
13 Open Play Crosses 3
0 Offsides 0
1 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
29 Duels Won 34
45% Duels Won % 53%
137 Total Pass 138
69% Passing Accuracy % 65%
51.9% Possession 48.2%

SECOND HALF START: 5:31 P.M. ET

46′ – Let’s see who will deliver in the second half in this exciting final.

47′ – Dom Dwyer again getting involved. Offsides, Dwyer. I think that’s the first offsides of the entire game. Indeed, it is. Long throw and that’s cleared. Robbie Findley concedes a set piece.

48′ – C.J. Sapong made a meal of that finish. Great delivery from Graham Zusi.

49′ – Chance Myers now. Here’s Kyle Beckerman. Back to Luis Gil. Good interception from Sporting.

50′ – Chris Winger closes the space on Sapong easily.

51′ – Dwyer almosts breaks through again. Boy, he sure is something, that Dom Dwyer. Beckerman slips but gets a shot off. Alvaro Saborio with a poor header.

52′ – GOAL! Real Salt Lake 15 Alvaro Saborio

Kyle Beckerman was there to deliver it to him. RSL leads, 1-0.

53′ – The adjustments were made and Aurelien Collin pounds the turf in frustration. RSL are now playing with house money.

54′ – Good stuff from Beckerman on that goal.

55′ – Too long of a pass for Javier Morales. Sporting get the ball back. And now here is a long pass from Graham Zusi. No dice. Goal kick, Nick Rimando.

56′ – Dwyer is asking for a corner but Hilario Grajedo won’t budge.

57′ – Graham Zusi wins a throw. Matt Besler. Stoppage of play. Another offsides, it looks like.

58′ – And Rimando resets. He’s had a good game. And that is a bad shot from Beckerman. Should have fared better.

59′ – Good recovery from RSL. Could this be the last game in charge of RSL for Jason Kreis? Stay tuned…

60′ – Corner now for Sporting Kansas City. Zusi to take. Short, and collected. Bad pass from Robbie Findley, and Sporting collect.

61′ – Under 30 minutes to go for Real Salt Lake.

62′ – Robbie Findley, and a shot goes off the post. Twice it’s hit the post for RSL. They could have been up 3-0 by now! This is the Kyle Beckerman show, folks.

63′ – Offsides, Sporting Kansas City, and Chris Wingert is hurt again. Chance Myers makes a meal of that. Good work from Wingert to clear, but Myers was offsides anyway.

64′ – This is tense! This is drama! This is MLS Cup, here on the Plex!

65′ – Sporting regroup and they need to hurry because time is not on their side.

66′ – Corner now for Sporting. Zusi will take this. High, wide, and the hosts concede a throw.

67′ – Peter Vermes is telling Aurelien Collin to get up. He does. Tony Beltran to throw.

68′ – Zusi plays it back. Sporting may have to pull people forward and put three in the back and run, run, run, run, run.

69′ – Aurelien Collin is walking a thin line here with his antics. Free kick.

70′ – Punched away by Jimmy Nielsen. Bad clearance from Benny Feilhaber but he’s bailed out.

71′ – Looks like Lovel Palmer will be brought in to hold the fort for Real Salt Lake.

Substitution Real Salt Lake
IN 7 Lovel Palmer
OUT 17 Chris Wingert

72′ - Substitution Sporting Kansas City
IN 16 Claudio Bieler
OUT 14 Dom Dwyer

73′ – Just missed for Javier Morales. Off the post. Again.

74′ – That’s three shots off the post for Real Salt Lake. This is a flattering scoreline for Sporting.

75′ – The hope here is that Claudie Bieler will be the hero Sporting Kansas City needs but if he doesn’t deliver, this could be bad news. Nagamura with another meal of a finish.

76′ – GOAL! 78 Aurelien Collin Sporting Kansas City
Great set piece and finish from Collin. That’s the goal Sporting needed.

77′ – Now we could be looking at the late show here at Sporting Park. Great extension and positioning here from Collin. That is what Real Salt Lake gets for hitting the post three times.

78′ – Sporting are not in any rush to go ahead, but they need to be smart here.

79′ – Graham Zusi misses high. That would have turned the tide for good.

80′ – Robbie Findley is mugged in broad twilight. He’s had a rough go at things against Sporting.

81′ – Kyle Beckerman will see that go out for a throw. Aurelien Collin has breathed new life into Sporting.

82′ – A shot from Olum is wide right. Goal kick, Nick Rimando.

83′ – A bad shot from Beckerman. He’s not a good triggerman. He’s only a decent provider, Kyle Beckerman is.

84′ – Ned Grabavoy can only go at fast as he can go.

85′ – Nielsen denies Saborio on a one-timer. Good stop from the Danish Dynamite. Seth Sinovic’s shaken up.

86′ – Graham Zusi wins a set piece from distance for…Graham Zusi. Can Collin be a hero again and head it home?

87′ – The answer: no. Cleared. And Grabavoy is denied by Sinovic.

88′ – Substitution Real Salt Lake
IN 26 Sebastian Velasquez
OUT 21 Luis Gil

Wide for Grabavoy.

89′ – Schuler and Nat Borchers concede a Zusi corner…cleared.

90′ – Claudio Bieler won’t get to that ball.

90′ + 1′ – Two minutes extra time, it seems.

90′ + 2′ – Benny Feilhaber’s stock has dropped as of late, and his bad shot there shows how far it’s dropped. That’s the end of regulation

END OF REGULATION

Sporting Kansas City 1
Aurelien Collin 76′

Real Salt Lake 1
Alvaro Saborio 52′

Sporting Kansas City Real Salt Lake
16 Attempts on Goal 11
4 Shots on Target 2
9 Shots off Target 6
3 Blocked Shots 3
7 Corner Kicks 1
13 Fouls 15
27 Open Play Crosses 8
3 Offsides 1
1 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
61 Duels Won 62
49% Duels Won % 50%
326 Total Pass 285
74% Passing Accuracy % 69%
54.5% Possession 45.5%
Sporting Kansas City Real Salt Lake
16 Attempts on Goal 11
4 Shots on Target 2
9 Shots off Target 6
3 Blocked Shots 3
7 Corner Kicks 1
13 Fouls 15
27 Open Play Crosses 8
3 Offsides 1
1 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
61 Duels Won 62
49% Duels Won % 50%
326 Total Pass 285
74% Passing Accuracy % 69%
54.5% Possession 45.5%

EXTRA TIME START: 6:22 P.M. ET

91′ – Extra time starts now. No goal. Robbie Findley was offsides.

92′ – What a shot from Nagamura. That’s wide right, though. Both teams pulling the trigger early in extra time.

93′ – Times have changed. No golden goal like in the NCAA, no silver goal. Just two 15-minute periods, irrespective of scoreline. Throw-in, Sporting. Another save from Rimando. Corner, Sporting.

94′ – Sebastian Velasquez, and he was passing that into a desert. Or rather, a winter wheat field.

95′ – Another shot misses for Sporting, and another one. RSL are on the defensive. Graham Zusi now, and it will be a corner for Zusi.

96′ – Olum’s shot is blocked. Matt Besler now.

97′ – Lovel Palmer gets whistled. Zusi to take this set piece from 15 yards. And some scuffles going on. Saborio is hurt.

98′ – Free kick here…

99′ – …and it’s cleared. Real Salt Lake get a break. C.J. Sapong is hoping to be the hero for the hosts.

100′ – And another foul.

Yellow card 26 Sebastian Velasquez
Real Salt Lake

101′ – Zusi’s free kick is blocked. And Real Salt Lake recover.

102′ – That was nearly trouble for Velasquez, nicknamed Rufio by his fans and detractors. And Sapong made a meal of the finish, and he hurt his back.

103′ – Here’s Chance Myers. RSL recover again. Great defense. Six or seven back there.

104′ – Peter Vermes is not going to get a penalty.

Yellow card 10 Benny Feilhaber
Sporting Kansas City

105′ – Offsides on a would-be goal for Alvaro Saborio. And Jason Kreis is stoic as ever.

END OF FIRST EXTRA TIME
Sporting Kansas City 1
Real Salt Lake 1

SECOND EXTRA TIME START: 6:40 P.M. ET

106′ – The last 15 extra time minutes of the 2013 Major League Soccer season begin…now.

107′ – Here’s Jimmy Nielsen, who will probably take his time playing it forward while a Native American chief bangs his drum in the background. Seth Sinovic. Lovel Palmer concedes a throw to Sporting.

108′ – Nick Rimando with the collection. So much for that through ball, but RSL recover.

109′ – Here comes Sporting’s Graham Zusi. He plays it back. Feilhaber…blocked. Real Salt Lake get the restart.

110′ – Sporting Kansas City’s backline contain but surrender possession. Tony Beltran was looking for a foul, but he won’t get it.

111′ – A foul by Claudio Bieler. Ill-advised, too. Peter Vermes can’t believe it.

112′ – Substitution Real Salt Lake
IN 8 Joao Plata
OUT 10 Robbie Findley

113′ – There will no heroics this time for Robbie Findley, sadly, but this now gives Plata a chance to be the spark RSL needs. Free kick, Javier Morales. Headed out.

114′ – Long through ball is collected by Jimmy Nielsen. He’s hoping to add more numbers to Sporting Kansas City’s wall. Good possession from Sporting.  Chance Myers gets it wrong.

115′ – Goal kick, Nick Rimando. Restart to Sporting.

116′ – C.J. Sapong got totaled there. He’s fine, though, and should see this season off.

117′ – If you recall, Real Salt Lake won their first-ever MLS Cup on penalties. This could be more of the same. This could be deja blue all over again. Of course, Sporting Kansas City have other ideas.

118′ – Back to Aurelien Collin, the hero so far for Sporting Kansas City. Chris Schuler is thinking, it could be the same old story all over again.

119′ – That would have been one heck of a looping goal, but it just missed wide right. What a sigh of relief if you’re a Sporting fan.

120′ – Jimmy Nielsen is there to clean up. Saborio is denied once again. And that’s it for extra time.

END OF SECOND EXTRA TIME

Sporting Kansas City 1
Aurelien Collin 76′

Real Salt Lake 1
Alvaro Saborio 52′

Sporting Kansas City Real Salt Lake
24 Attempts on Goal 11
5 Shots on Target 2
11 Shots off Target 6
8 Blocked Shots 3
9 Corner Kicks 1
17 Fouls 21
36 Open Play Crosses 10
4 Offsides 3
2 First Yellow Cards 3
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
79 Duels Won 79
50% Duels Won % 50%
460 Total Pass 379
71% Passing Accuracy % 67%
56% Possession 44%

Well folks, this season’s come down to a penalty shootout. Be sure to refresh the screen to see how this penalty shootout unfolded here at Sporting Park.

Claudio Bieler (SKC)…made. 1-0 SKC

Alvario Saborio (RSL)…missed. 1-0 SKC

Paulo Nagamura (SKC)…made. 2-0 SKC

Ned Grabavoy (RSL)…saved. 2-0 SKC

Matt Besler (SKC)…saved. 2-0 SKC

Kyle Beckerman (RSL)…made. 2-1 SKC

Benny Feilhaber (SKC)…made. 3-1 SKC

Joao Plata (RSL)…made. 3-2 SKC

Graham Zusi (SKC)…missed. 3-2 SKC

Javier Morales (RSL)…made. 3-3

Seth Sinovic (SKC)…made. 4-3 SKC

Chris Schuler (RSL)…made. 4-4

C.J. Sapong (SKC)…made. 5-4 SKC

Tony Beltran (RSL)…made. 5-5

Lawrence Olum (SKC)…missed. 5-5

Sebastian Velasquez (RSL)…saved. 5-5

Chance Meyers (SKC)…made. 6-5 SKC

Nat Borchers (RSL)…made. 6-6

Aurelien Collin (SKC)…made. 7-6 SKC

Lovel Palmer (RSL)…missed. 7-6 SKC

FINAL

Sporting Kansas City 1
Aurelien Collin 76′

Real Salt Lake 1
Alvaro Saborio 52′

Sporting Kansas City win on penalties 7-6

The 13-year wait is over for Sporting Kansas City. There will be new numbers added to the wall of Sporting Park, and one would think that Jimmy Nielsen will be calling this a career. Sporting Kansas City are your 2013 Major League Soccer champions. Thank you for following this live blog on FanSided’s MLS Multiplex. Keep it right here for a recap of the match and more offseason news from Major League Soccer’s clubs. Good night, everybody!

Topics: MLS, MLS Cup, Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City

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  • Joel Wagler

    Go get ‘em boys.

    BTW – Sporting KC Rules!

    • JoRyanSalazar

      I picked Real Salt Lake on my old blog to win this. Let’s see if their scoring form is back up to par.

  • Joel Wagler

    Will the home field come into play?

    • JoRyanSalazar

      It might, but Real Salt Lake has proven it can deliver on the road, so this could be an even match.

      • Aaron Rench

        Sorry, but the home field advantage of Sporting Park will definitely make a difference. Blue Hell will be loud and cold, which is even more reason to make noise and dance around.

        • JoRyanSalazar

          The home field advantage is comparable to that of Portland, and look what happened to them against RSL. Also, this Real Salt Lake side likes to play under adversity, so I don’t think it will affect them.

          • Aaron Rench

            Why compare it to Portland? RSL’s last game may have been in Portland, but they lead by two aggregate goals. All they had to do was bunker down in the defensive third, which is exactly what they did.

          • JoRyanSalazar

            Portland always has a tough atmosphere. Los Angeles couldn’t figure them out, and a quite a few others couldn’t crack the New Fortress either. So it’s comparable, yeah.

          • Aaron Rench

            SKC allowed the fewest shots on goal in the league. And when shots did go on goal, Jimmy Nielsen stopped them, have the second most blocked shot percentage. RSL’s not scoring many goals today.

          • JoRyanSalazar

            On my Bold Predictions at the View from Avalon, I’ve called matches to have more goals and instead a few are scored, and vice versa. These are the types of matches where statistics don’t matter but the scoreline does.

          • Aaron Rench

            What? “statistics don’t matter but the scoreline does”? The scoreline is created by the statistics. Sure, anomalies happen every game, but teams produce numbers via the way they play. By most previous results, SKC doesn’t allow many shots or goals.

          • JoRyanSalazar

            I’ve had matches where one team dominates the stats, but still loses the game. It’s happened numerous times in matches involving the Galaxy. This could be more of the same.

          • Aaron Rench

            The last Portland vs. RSL game was like that. Portland had all the stats: possession, passes, and other stuff. But the one thing they couldn’t get were successful passes in the offensive 3rd or completed crosses. Again, The scoreline is created by the statistics.

          • JoRyanSalazar

            I believe that if you dominate the stats, you are expected to win the game. That’s when the stats back up the scoreline. That correlation is a belief I’ve had for quite a while.

  • JoRyanSalazar

    All right, roll out your pregame meals. What’s for you game-day breakfast and lunch? I had a few beef and bean burritos, country-friend ham with fried rice, oranges and coffee.

    • Joel Wagler

      A spicy Runza sandwich and a large fries. Go SKC!

      • JoRyanSalazar

        Runza sandwich? Barbecue? Pulled pork?

        • Joel Wagler

          It’s like a very fancy bierock. Hamburger, bacon, jalapenos, cheese, cabbage, in a hot pocket like bread wrapping, only more doughy.

          • JoRyanSalazar

            Mmmm. Good eating. Is that a Kansas City institution?

          • Joel Wagler

            Maybe Lawrence, Ks institution. Chain out of Lincoln, NE

          • JoRyanSalazar

            Husker territory? Oh.

  • Joel Wagler

    Temperature may creep up over 20 degrees by game time. Still a little cold to be running around in shorts!

    • Aaron Rench

      Haha. Supposed to be the coldest game in MLS history.

      • JoRyanSalazar

        Super Bowl weather.

        • Joel Wagler

          Only not in a dome!

          • JoRyanSalazar

            Or in the South. Like Florida.

  • JoRyanSalazar

    These were my 10 Bold Predictions on the View from Avalon. It looks like the site has been removed. So here they are.

    1. Goals, goals, goals!

    We’re going to see plenty of scoring this time around. Both sides are itching for their second start. For Sporting, they’re looking for their first title since 2000 and as for RSL, they’re aiming for their first star since 2009. At least four goals will be scores this contest.

    2. A tense first 15 minutes

    But despite all of goal scoring and wide-open play, the match will start with both teams sizing each other up. There will be no goals scored in the first 15 minutes of MLS Cup 2013.

    3. Jimmy Nielsen with at least four saves

    MLS Cup 2013 is a chance for Danish goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to shine for the hosts against RSL. In the regular season, Nielsen recorded 68 saves for Sporting Kansas City and on Saturday, despite giving up some goals, he will make at least four saves to keep his fellow sky blues in the hunt.

    4. Nick Rimando with at least five saves

    Nielsen’s counterpart, Nick Rimando, is no slouch either. This regular season, Rimando recorded 82 saves and has shown great leadership in the box. Against Sporting Kansas City in MLS Cup 2013, Rimando will make at least five saves.

    5. Javier Morales with a goal and an assist

    Javier Morales is Real Salt Lake’s swingman and with Alvaro Saborio nursing an injury, his role becomes that much bigger. In the regular season, Morales recorded eight goals and 10 assists. Look for Javier Morales to finish the season with a goal and assist against the hosts from Sporting Kansas City.

    6. Look out! It’s Chris Schuler!

    Sure, Chris Schuler didn’t score a goal in the second leg of the 2013 MLS Western Conference Final against the Portland Timbers, but he can finish when he has the opportunity. Schuler will score in the second half against Sporting.

    7. Robbie Findley leaves an impression

    Also hitting his stride this season is Robbie Findley, who scored six goals in the regular season for Real Salt Lake. Findley did score in MLS Cup 2009 against Los Angeles and he’ll score again on Saturday.

    8. Claudio Bieler will score for Sporting

    The prospects for Sporting Kansas City will hinge on whether or not Claudio Bieler gets the nod to start. In 2013, Bieler scored 10 goals while recording four assists. Bieler will get on the score sheet on Saturday but it will probably not be enough.

    9. At least 35 fouls and five cards

    Hilario Grajeda will be the referee for MLS Cup 2013, and he is going to have a field day issuing cards and calling fouls. Grajeda will call at least 35 fouls and issue at least five cards of any color. Hey, it’s the last game of the season, readers. Might as well see both teams pull all the stops.

    10. Real Salt Lake will win MLS Cup 2013

    A lot of pundits are calling this a coronation for Sporting Kansas City. That puts a lot of pressure off Real Salt Lake. If you look at how they dismantled the Portland Timbers and also came through in the clutch against the Galaxy in the second leg of the 2013 MLS Western Conference Semifinals, you can’t help but wonder which team has the better offense.

    This will be a cup final full of offense. Great defending will come at a premium. The View from Avalon believes that if you can beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, you will most likely win MLS Cup. Real Salt Lake is a team on a mission, and they are going to successfully invade Sporting Park and win the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.

    Real Salt Lake 3, Sporting Kansas City 1

  • Aaron Rench

    For any people from the KC area, what’s more likely to happen? Sporting wins the MLS Cup, or Mizzou wins the SEC Championship?

    • Joel Wagler

      Gotta go with SKC

  • JoRyanSalazar

    Love seeing all these comments but I would love to see some more from others. Come on FanSiders, let us know what you think of today’s match!

  • Joel Wagler

    Just about 15 minutes to kickoff…

    • JoRyanSalazar

      Bart Scott: “Can’t Wait!”

    • Aaron Rench

      This is my first year watching the MLS. At the beginning of the season I selected Sporting as the team I would follow. What an awesome year to get initiated. Counting down the seconds for the win!

      • JoRyanSalazar

        MLS Cup 2013 on the air!

  • JoRyanSalazar

    Showtime!

  • Aaron Rench

    AaaAAAAHHhHHhhHHHHk!!! It’s starting! It’s happening!!!

  • JoRyanSalazar

    Not sure Graham Zusi should be compared to Peter Nowak but Alexi is just being Alexi, I guess.

  • Joel Wagler

    What language is that play-by-play announcer speaking? Lol!

  • Aaron Rench

    If Vermes wins, he will become the second person to win the Cup as a manager and a player. The only other person to do it was RSL’s Jason Kreis.

  • Joel Wagler

    Those dudes HAVE to be freezing their nuggets off!

  • Aaron Rench

    Uri Rosell, defensive mid, is out. Replaced by Laurence Olum, who is underrated in my opinion.

  • Aaron Rench

    First half analysis: Players being all kinds of mean to each other; SKC narrowly misses a few chances; RSL’s GK Nick Rimando playing a great game; SKC getting lucky that they aren’t down, RSL blew some big chances.

  • Joel Wagler

    SKC has had a number of missed chances, and now RSL scores a big goal.

    • Aaron Rench

      That was Matt Besler being out of place, and a great pass by Kyle Beckerman.

  • Joel Wagler

    Oh, that was too close.

  • Joel Wagler

    And that was a brutal miss by Sporting. How did they not score right there.

    • Aaron Rench

      They are missing out on so many opportunities, but so is RSL. This game is inches from being a lot different.

  • Joel Wagler

    SKC gets on the board! Finally, they got one through

    • Aaron Rench

      Yeah!! Collin is the my favorite Frenchman ever!

  • Joel Wagler

    These guys are going to be warm for days after this…

  • Joel Wagler

    Just how old is Nielson?

    • JoRyanSalazar

      Old enough to call it a career.

  • JoRyanSalazar

    You have to admit, RSL made SKC work for this.

  • Joel Wagler

    I gotta admit, that was pretty incredible. My heart has been racing for the last hour!

    • JoRyanSalazar

      I’m not affected. I just think it was expected for RSL to lose a penalty shootout of this magnitude.

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